KATHMANDU, Feb 13: While rejecting the UCPN (Maoist) proposal to make the sitting chief justice a new prime minister, major opposition parties Nepali Congress and CPN-UML insisted on finding a common prime ministerial candidate from among the leaders of political parties.
As both the ruling as well as opposition alliances remained rigid in their respective stances, the meeting among the two sides ended inconclusively.
"No consensus can be reached on ending the deadlock by bypassing the political parties," said CPN-UML leader KP Sharma Oli after a meeting at NC President Sushil Koirala´s residence in Maharajgunj on Tuesday. Leaders from ruling UCPN (Maoist) as well as Madhes-based parties and opposition NC and UML were present during the meeting.
NC Vice-President Ram Chandra Paudel said they discussed various alternatives but couldn´t reach any conclusion.
CARTOON BY RAJESH KC
Deputy Prime Minister Bijaya Kumar Gachchhadar said he was open to all options including the chief justice as the head of the government. Gachchhadar, the chairman of Madhesi People´s Rights Forum-Democratic, earlier on Friday had told reporters in Biratnagar that the Maoist proposal was unworkable.
Leaders from the major parties couldn´t settle on any agreement as overwhelming majority of leaders from both the NC and UML at their respective central committee meetings strongly opposed the idea of forming a government with CJ as head.
During the NC central committee meeting held at the party office in Sanepa Tuesday afternoon, all CWC members except for a few argued that party should not accept the leadership of sitting chief justice for formation of a new government. The CWC meeting will continue Wednesday.
Though leaders including Ram Sharan Mahat, Krishna Chandra Nepali, Ajaya Chaurasiya and Mohammad Aftab Aalam suggested that the party should be ready to accept even the leadership of a sitting chief justice if there was guarantee of holding a fresh election, all other CWC members opposed the proposal. The leaders opposing the proposal, however, said they could accept the proposal if the chief justice resigns his post before taking up the prime ministerial post.
Altogether 30 CWC members had put forth their views on the latest Maoist proposal. They argued that the NC should not accept the proposal for three reasons: Firstly, the proposal originated ´outside´ the country; secondly, it aims at discrediting the judiciary and dragging it into controversy; and thirdly, the proposal of making chief justice a new prime minister was endorsed by the UCPN (Maoist) general convention concluded recently in Hetauda.
Leaders stressed on two things including early election and resignation of Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai. "There have been suggestions to relinquish party´s claim for government leadership and float alternative names from among political parties," said CWC member Gagan Thapa.
The members had suggested to the party leadership to seek consensus on independent candidates or former chief justices if there was no consensus on the candidacy of a political leader. Some leaders had proposed Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Nepal Workers and Peasant Party (NWPP) Chairman Narayan Man Bijukchhe as prime ministerial candidates from political leaders and Daman Nath Dhungana from among independent candidates for the post.
Talking to media persons after the meeting, NC senior leader Sher Bahadur Deuba said it is a matter of shame that parties could not forge consensus on prime ministerial candidate from among political party leaders. "Election is the most important thing now. We should accept any proposal on new prime minister for the cause of election. The candidate could be a political leader, an independent person or the chief justice," he said.
Meanwhile, an overwhelming majority of central committee of the CPN-UML on Tuesday rejected the Maoist proposal and insisted on forming a new coalition government headed by a political leader.
According to UML spokesman Pradeep Gyawali, the party´s CC members were dead set against forming the CJ-headed government. The UML leaders who had been consistently supporting the candidacy of NC President Sushil Koirala so far said at the Friday meeting that now it is time for opposition parties to be flexible when it comes to finding a prime ministerial candidate from among political parties.
According to a participant, some leaders argued that forming a new government under the leadership of UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal was better than nominating the sitting chief justice as head of the executive as well.
According to Gyawali, the UML leaders rejected the proposal to form CJ-headed government on four grounds. "First, they said it is against the principle of separation of powers. Secondly, it is also against the CPN-UML´s guiding principle -- people´s multiparty democratic system. Thirdly, this idea has been floated not only with the intention to weaken the political parties but also to undermine the multiparty democratic system in its entirety."
They also accused the UCPN (Maoist) of trying to take the judiciary in the party´s favor by floating such a proposal.